“I watch the shows.”
That was Donald Trump’s response in August 2015 when NBC’s Chuck Todd asked the candidate to name his military advisers. It may have been the most honest answer Trump gave during his campaign — and it would prove prophetic, too.
Yes, President Trump likes to watch television, lots of it. He obsesses over his portrayals and seems more inclined to gather insights from morning hosts than from morning briefings. Groomed on “The Apprentice” and “Fox & Friends,” he governs with one eye on the screen, the other on the camera and both on the ratings. No surprise that Trump-the-reality-TV-president has become one of the more common metaphors of our time.
But James Poniewozik, the chief TV critic of the New York Times argues that Trump doesn’t just watch television and appear on television — Trump is television. And he doesn’t mean it entirely as a metaphor. “For decades, Trump had essentially been a cable-news channel in human form: loud, short of attention span, and addicted to conflict,” Poniewozik writes. But by the time Trump won the White House, “he and cable had achieved the singularity, a meshing of man and machine into a symbiotic consciousness, the perturbation of each amplifying the other.”